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The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church (2008)

THE CONSTITUTION PREAMBLE

The church is a community of all true believers under the Lordship of Christ. It is the redeemed and redeeming fellowship in which the Word of God is preached by persons divinely called, and the sacraments are duly administered according to Christ's own appointment. Under the discipline of the Holy Spirit the church seeks to provide for the maintenance of worship, the edification of believers, and the redemption of the world. The church of Jesus Christ exists in and for the world, and its very dividedness is a hindrance to its mission in that world. The prayers and intentions of The United Methodist Church and its predecessors, The Methodist Church and The Evangelical United Brethren Church, have been and are for obedience to the will of our Lord that his people be one, in humility for the present brokenness of the Church and in gratitude that opportunities for reunion have been given. Therefore, The United Methodist Church has adopted and amended the following Constitution.1

1. The Constitution was adopted in Chicago, Illinois, on Nov. 11, 1966, by the General Conferences of The Evangelical United Brethren Church and The Methodist Church and thereafter by the requisite vote in the annual conferences of the two churches. The Plan of Union was made effective by the Uniting Conference in Dallas, Texas, on April 23, 1968. Preamble amended 2000.

Division One - General

¶ 1. Article I. Declaration of Union--The Evangelical United Brethren Church and The Methodist Church have been united into one Church. The United Methodist Church, as thus constituted, is, and shall be, the successor of the two uniting churches.2 ¶ 2. Article II. Name--The name of the Church shall be The United Methodist Church. The name of the Church may be translated freely into languages other than English as the General Conference may determine. ¶ 3. Article III. Articles of Religion and the Confession of Faith--The Articles of Religion and the Confession of Faith of The United Methodist Church are those held by The Methodist Church and The Evangelical United Brethren Church, respectively, at the time of their uniting.3

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AMENDMENT I (1)

¶ 4. Article IV. Inclusiveness of the Church--The United Methodist Church is a part of the church universal, which is one Body in Christ. The United Methodist Church acknowledges that all persons are of sacred worth and that we are in ministry to all. All persons without regard to race, color, national origin, status,4 or economic condition, shall be eligible to attend its worship services, participate in its programs, receive the sacraments, and upon baptism be admitted as baptized members, and. All persons upon taking vows declaring the Christian faith and relationship in Jesus Christ, shall be eligible to become professing members in any local church in the connection.5 In The United Methodist Church no conference or other organizational unit of the Church shall be structured so as to exclude any member or any constituent body of the Church because of race, color, national origin, status or economic condition.6

AMENDMENT II (2)

¶ 5. Article V. Racial Justice--The United Methodist Church proclaims the value of each person as a unique child of God and commits itself to the healing and wholeness of all persons. The United Methodist Church recognizes that the sin of racism has been destructive to its unity throughout its history. Racism continues to cause painful division and marginalization. The United Methodist Church shall confront and seek to eliminate racism, whether in organizations or in individuals, in every facet of its life and in society at large. The United Methodist Church shall work collaboratively with others to address concerns that threaten the cause of racial justice at all times and in all places.7

All official organizations, groups, committees, councils, boards, and agencies of The United Methodist Church shall adopt ethics and conflict of interest policies, applicable to both members and employees, which embody and live out our Christian values.

¶ 6. Article VI. Ecumenical Relations--As part of the church universal, The United Methodist Church believes that the Lord of the church is calling Christians everywhere to strive toward unity; and therefore it will seek, and work for, unity at all levels of church life: through world relationships with other Methodist churches and united churches related to The Methodist Church or The Evangelical United Brethren Church, through councils of churches, and through plans of union and covenantal relationships8 with churches of Methodist or other denominational traditions. ¶ 7. Article VII. Title to Properties--Titles to properties formerly held by9 The Evangelical United Brethren Church and The Methodist Church shall be held and administered in accordance with the Book of Discipline.10 Nothing in the Plan of Union at any time after the union is to be construed so as to require any local church or any other property owner of the former The Evangelical United Brethren Church or the former The Methodist Church to alienate or in any way change the title to property contained in its deed or deeds at the time of union and lapse of time.

2. Amended 1984, 2000. 3. Amended 2000. 4. Amended 1992. 5. Amended 2000. 6. See Judicial Council Decisions 242, 246, 340, 351, 362, 377, 398, 594, 601, and Decisions 4 and 5, Interim Judicial Council. 7. Amended 2000.

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DIVISION TWO - ORGANIZATION

Section I. Conferences

¶ 8. Article I.--There shall be a General Conference for the entire Church with such powers, duties, and privileges as are hereinafter set forth.

AMENDMENT III (3)

¶ 9. Article II.--There shall be jurisdictional conferences for the Church in the United States of America, with such powers, duties, and privileges as are hereinafter set forth,11 provided that in The United Methodist Church there shall be no jurisdictional or central regional conference based on any ground other than geographical and regional division.

AMENDMENT IV (4)

¶ 10. Article III.--There shall be central regional conferences for the church outside the United States of America and, if necessary, provisional central regional conferences, all with such powers, duties, and privileges as are hereinafter set forth. ¶ 11. Article IV.--There shall be annual conferences as the fundamental bodies of the Church and, if necessary, provisional annual conferences, with such powers, duties, and privileges as are hereinafter set forth.12 ¶ 12. Article V.--There shall be a charge conference for each church or charge with such powers, duties, and privileges as are hereinafter set forth.13

11. See Judicial Council Decision 128. 12. See Judicial Council Decision 354. 13. See Judicial Council Decision 516.

Section II. General Conference

¶ 13. Article I.--1. The General Conference shall be composed of not less than 600 nor more than 1,000 delegates, one half of whom shall be clergy and one half lay members, to be elected by the annual conferences. The missionary conferences shall be considered as annual conferences for the purpose of this article.14 2. Delegates shall be elected in a fair and open process by the annual conferences. Delegates may be elected by other autonomous Methodist churches if and when the General Conference shall approve concordats with such other autonomous Methodist churches for the mutual election and seating of delegates in each other's legislative conferences. 3. In the case of The Methodist Church in Great Britain, mother church of Methodism, provision shall be made for The United Methodist Church to send two delegates annually to the British Methodist Conference, and The Methodist Church in Great Britain to send four delegates quadrennially to The United Methodist General Conference, the delegates of both conferences having vote and being evenly divided between clergy and laity.15

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¶ 14. Article II.--The General Conference shall meet in the month of April or May once in four years at such time and in such place as shall be determined by the General Conference or by its duly authorized committees. A special session of the General Conference, possessing the authority and exercising all the powers of the General Conference, may be called by the Council of Bishops, or in such other manner as the General Conference may from time to time prescribe, to meet at such time and in such place as may be stated in the call. Such special session of the General Conference shall be composed of the delegates to the preceding General Conference or their lawful successors, except that when a particular annual conference or missionary conference16 shall prefer to have a new election it may do so.17 The purpose of such special session shall be stated in the call, and only such business shall be transacted as is in harmony with the purpose stated in such call unless the General Conference by a two-thirds vote shall determine that other business may be transacted.18

AMENDMENT V (5) AND VI (6)

¶ 15. Article III.--The General Conference shall fix the ratio of representation in the General, regional and jurisdictional, and central conferences from the annual conferences, missionary conferences,19 and the provisional annual conferences, computed on a two-factor basis: (1) the number of clergy members of the annual conference and the missionary conference,20 and (2) the number of professing21 members in the annual conference and the missionary conference,22 provided that each annual conference, missionary conference,23 or provisional annual conference shall be entitled to at least one clergy and one lay delegate in the General Conference and also in the jurisdictional or central regional conference.24

Any other provision of the Constitution notwithstanding, General Conference may provide for a transitional period for newly created annual, missionary, or provisional annual conferences, not to exceed two quadrennia, during which time such a conference may be represented at General, jurisdictional, and regional conferences on other than a proportional basis.

AMENDMENT VII (7) AND VIII (8)

¶ 16. Article IV.--The General Conference shall have full legislative power over all matters distinctively connectional, and in the exercise of this power shall have authority as follows:25 1. To define and fix the conditions, privileges, and duties of Church membership, which shall in every case be without reference to race, gender or status.26 2. To define and fix the powers and duties of elders, deacons, supply preachers, local preachers, exhorters, deaconesses, and home missioners.27 3. To define and fix the powers and duties of annual conferences, provisional annual conferences, missionary conferences and missions, and of central regional conferences, district conferences, charge conferences, and congregational meetings.28 4. To provide for the organization, promotion, and administration of the work of the Church outside the United States of America.29 5. To define and fix the powers, duties, and privileges of the episcopacy, to adopt a plan for the support of the bishops, to provide a uniform rule for their retirement, and to provide for the discontinuance of a bishop because of inefficiency or unacceptability.30

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6. To provide and revise the hymnal and ritual of the Church and to regulate all matters relating to the form and mode of worship, subject to the limitations of the first and second Restrictive Rules.31 7. To provide a judicial system and a method of judicial procedure for the Church, except as herein otherwise prescribed. 8. To initiate and to direct all connectional enterprises of the Church and to provide boards for their promotion and administration.32 9. To determine and provide for raising and distributing funds necessary to carry on the work of the Church.33 10. To fix a uniform basis upon which bishops shall be elected by the jurisdictional conferences and to determine the number of bishops that may be elected by central regional conferences.34 11. To select its presiding officers from the bishops, through a committee, provided that the bishops shall select from their own number the presiding officer of the opening session.35 12. To change the number and the boundaries of jurisdictional conferences upon the consent of a majority of the annual conferences in each jurisdictional conference involved.36 13. To establish such commissions for the general work of the Church as may be deemed advisable. 14. To secure the rights and privileges of membership in all agencies, programs, and institutions in The United Methodist Church regardless of race, gender or status.37 15. To allow the annual conferences to utilize structures unique to their mission, other mandated structures notwithstanding. 38 16. To enact such other legislation as may be necessary, subject to the limitations and restrictions of the Constitution of the Church.39

14. Amended 1976. 15. Amended 1996. 16. Amended 1976. 17. See Judicial Council Decisions 221, 226, 228, 238, 302. 18. See Judicial Council Decision 227. 19. Amended 1976. 20. Amended 1976. 21. Amended 2000. 22. Amended 1976. 23. Amended 1976. 24. See Judicial Council Decision 403. 25. See Judicial Council Decisions 96, 232, 236, 318, 325, 544. 26. See Judicial Council Decision 558. 27. See Judicial Council Decisions 58, 313. 28. See Judicial Council Decision 411. 29. See Judicial Council Decision 182; amended 1976. 30. See Judicial Council Decisions 35, 114, 312, 365, 413. 31. See Judicial Council Decision 694. 32. See Judicial Council Decisions 214, 364, 411. 33. See Judicial Council Decision 30. 34. See Judicial Council Decisions 598, 735. 35. See Judicial Council Decision 126. 36. See Judicial Council Decisions 55, 56, 215. 37. See Decisions 4, 5, Interim Judicial Council; Judicial Council Decisions 427, 433, 442, 451, 540, 558, 567, 588, 594, 601. 38. See Judicial Council Decision 825; amended 1996. 39. See Judicial Council Decision 215.

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Section III. Restrictive Rules

¶ 17. Article I.--The General Conference shall not revoke, alter, or change our Articles of Religion or establish any new standards or rules of doctrine contrary to our present existing and established standards of doctrine.40 ¶ 18. Article II.--The General Conference shall not revoke, alter, or change our Confession of Faith. ¶ 19. Article III.--The General Conference shall not change or alter any part or rule of our government so as to do away with episcopacy or destroy the plan of our itinerant general superintendency. ¶ 20. Article IV.--The General Conference shall not do away with the privileges of our clergy of right to trial by a committee and of an appeal; neither shall it do away with the privileges of our members of right to trial before the church, or by a committee, and of an appeal.41 ¶ 21. Article V.--The General Conference shall not revoke or change the General Rules of Our United Societies.42 ¶ 22. Article VI.--The General Conference shall not appropriate the net income of the publishing houses, the book concerns, or the Chartered Fund to any purpose other than for the benefit of retired or disabled preachers, their spouses, widows, or widowers, and children or other beneficiaries of the ministerial pension systems.43

40. See Judicial Council Decisions 86, 142, 243, 358, 847, 871. 41. See Judicial Council Decisions 351, 522, 557, 595, 982. 42. See Judicial Council Decisions 358, 468, 847, 871. 43. See Judicial Council Decisions 322, 330.

Section IV. Jurisdictional Conferences AMENDMENT IX (9)

¶ 23. Article I.--The jurisdictional conferences shall be composed of as many representatives from the annual conferences and missionary conferences44 as shall be determined by a uniform basis established by the General Conference provided that no jurisdictional conference shall have fewer than 100 delegates. The missionary conferences shall be considered as annual conferences for the purpose of this article.45 ¶ 24. Article II.--All jurisdictional conferences shall have the same status and the same privileges of action within the limits fixed by the Constitution. The ratio of representation of the annual conferences and missionary conferences46 in the General Conference shall be the same for all jurisdictional conferences. ¶ 25. Article III.--The General Conferences shall fix the basis of representation in the jurisdictional conferences, provided that the jurisdictional conferences shall be composed of an equal number of clergy and lay delegates to be elected by the annual conferences, the missionary conferences47 and the provisional annual conferences.

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¶ 26. Article IV.--Each jurisdictional conference shall meet at the time determined by the Council of Bishops or its delegated committee, each jurisdictional conference convening on the same date as the others and at a place selected by the jurisdictional committee on entertainment, appointed by its College of Bishops unless such a committee has been appointed by the preceding jurisdictional conference. ¶ 27. Article V.--The jurisdictional conferences shall have the following powers and duties and such others as may be conferred by the General Conferences: 1. To promote the evangelistic, educational, missionary, and benevolent interests of the Church and to provide for interests and institutions within their boundaries.48 2. To elect bishops and to cooperate in carrying out such plans for their support as may be determined by the General Conference. 3. To establish and constitute jurisdictional conference boards as auxiliary to the general boards of the Church as the need may appear and to choose their representatives on the general boards in such manner as the General Conference may determine.49 4. To determine the boundaries of their annual conferences, provided that there shall be no annual conference with a membership of fewer than fifty clergy in full connection, except by the consent of the General Conference. 5. To make rules and regulations for the administration of the work of the Church within the jurisdiction, subject to such powers as have been or shall be vested in the General Conference. 6. To appoint a committee on appeals to hear and determine the appeal of a traveling preacher of that jurisdiction from the decision of a trial committee.

44. Amended 1976. 45. Amended 1976. 46. Amended 1976. 47. Amended 1976. 48. See Judicial Council Decision 67. 49. See Judicial Council Decision 183. 50. Amended 1976. 51. Amended 1992.

Section V. Central Regional Conferences AMENDMENT X (10)

¶ 28. Article I.--There shall may be central regional conferences for the work of the Church outside the United States of America50 with such duties, powers, and privileges as are hereinafter set forth. The number and boundaries of the central conferences shall be determined by the Uniting Conference. Subsequently The General Conference shall have authority to change the number and boundaries of central regional conferences. The central regional conferences shall have the duties, powers, and privileges hereinafter set forth.

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AMENDMENT XI (11)

¶ 29. Article II.--The central regional conferences shall be composed of as many delegates as shall be determined by a basis established by the General Conference. The delegates shall be clergy and lay in equal numbers.51

AMENDMENT XII (12)

¶ 30. Article III.--The central regional conferences shall meet within the year succeeding the meeting of the General Conference at such times and places as shall have been determined by the preceding respective central regional conferences or by commissions appointed by them or by the General Conference. The date and place of the first meeting succeeding the Uniting Conference shall be fixed by the bishops of the respective central conferences, or in such manner as shall be determined by the General Conference.

AMENDMENT XIII (13)

¶ 31. Article IV.--The central regional conferences shall have the following powers and duties and such others as may be conferred by the General Conference: 1. To promote the evangelistic, educational, missionary, social-concern, and benevolent interests and institutions of the Church within their own boundaries. 2. In those regional conferences where there are no jurisdictional conferences to elect the bishops for the respective central regional conferences in number as may be determined from time to time, upon a basis fixed by the General Conference, and to cooperate in carrying out such plans for the support of their bishops as may be determined by the General Conference.52 In those regional conferences where there are jurisdictional conferences, bishops shall be elected by the respective jurisdictional conferences. 3. To establish and constitute such central regional conference boards as may be required and to elect their administrative officers.53 4. To determine the boundaries of the annual conferences within their respective areas. 5. To make such rules and regulations for the administration of the work within their boundaries including such changes and adaptations of the General Discipline as the conditions in the respective areas may require, subject to the powers that have been or shall be vested in the General Conference.54 6. To appoint a judicial court to determine legal questions arising on the rules, regulations, and such revised, adapted, or new sections of the central regional conference Discipline enacted by the central regional conference. 7. To appoint a committee on appeals to hear and determine the appeal of a traveling preacher of that central regional conference from the decision of a committee on trial.55

52. See Judicial Council Decision 370. 53. See Judicial Council Decision 69. 54. See Judicial Council Decisions 142, 147, 313. 55. See Judicial Council Decision 595.

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Section VI. Annual Conferences AMENDMENT XIV (14) AND XV (15)

¶ 32. Article I.--The annual conference shall be composed of lay and clergy members as defined by the General Conference. Lay members shall have been professing members of The United Methodist Church for one year preceding their election. clergy and lay members. The clergy membership shall consist of deacons and elders in full connection, provisional members, associate members, and local pastors under appointment. The lay membership shall consist of professing56 lay members elected by each charge, the diaconal ministers, the active deaconesses, and home missioners under episcopal appointment within the bounds of the annual conference,57 the conference president of United Methodist Women, the conference president of United Methodist Men, the conference lay leader, district lay leaders, the conference director of Lay Speaking Ministries, conference secretary of Global Ministries (if lay), the president or equivalent officer of the conference young adult organization, the president of the conference youth organization, the chair of the annual conference college student organization,58 and one young person between the ages of twelve (12) and seventeen (17) and one young person between the ages of eighteen (18) and thirty (30)59 from each district to be selected in such a manner as may be determined by the annual conference.60 In the annual conferences of the central regional conferences, the four-year participation and the two-year membership requirements may be waived by the annual conference for young persons under thirty (30)61 years of age. Such persons must be professing62 members of The United Methodist Church and active participants at the time of election.63 Each charge served by more than one clergy shall be entitled to as many lay members as there are clergy members. The lay members shall have been for the two years next preceding their election members of The United Methodist Church64 and shall have been active participants in The United Methodist Church for at least four years next preceding their election.65 If the lay membership should number less than the clergy members of the annual conference, the annual conference shall, by its own formula, provide for the election of additional lay members to equalize lay and clergy membership of the annual conference.66

AMENDMENT XVI (16) AND XVII (17)

¶ 33. Article II.--The annual conference is the basic body in the Church and as such shall have reserved to it the right to vote on all constitutional amendments, on the election of clergy and lay delegates to the General, regional and the jurisdictional or central conferences, on all matters relating to the character and conference relations of its clergy members, and on the ordination of clergy and such other rights as have not been delegated to the General Conference under the Constitution, with the exception that the lay members may not vote on matters of ordination, character, and conference relations of clergy except that the lay members of the conference board of ordained ministry and the committee on investigation may vote on matters of ordination, character, and conference relations of clergy, with the further exception that lay members of the district committee on ordained ministry be full participating members of the district committee on ordained ministry with vote.67 It shall discharge such duties and exercise such powers as the General Conference under the Constitution may determine.68

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AMENDMENT XVIII (18)

¶ 34. Article III.--The annual conference shall elect clergy and lay delegates to the General Conference and to its jurisdictional or central and regional conference in the manner provided in this section, Articles IV and V.69 The persons first elected up to the number determined by the ratio for representation in the General Conference shall be representatives in that body. Additional delegates shall be elected to complete the number determined by the ratio for representation in the jurisdictional or central regional conference, who, together with those first elected as above, shall be delegates in the jurisdictional or central regional conference. The additional delegates to the jurisdictional or central regional conference shall in the order of their election be the reserve delegates to the General Conference.70 The annual conference shall also elect reserve clergy and lay delegates to the jurisdictional or central regional conference as it may deem desirable. These reserve clergy and lay delegates to the jurisdictional or central regional conferences may act as reserve delegates to the General Conference when it is evident that not enough reserve delegates are in attendance at the General Conference.71

AMENDMENT XIX (19) AND XX (20)

¶ 35. Article IV.--The ordained ministerial clergy delegates to the General Conference and to the jurisdictional or central or regional conference shall be elected by and from73 the ordained74 ministerial clergy members in full connection and shall be elected by the clergy members with of the annual conference who are deacons and elders in full connection, associate members, and those provisional members who have completed all of their educational requirements and local pastors who have completed course of study or an M. Div degree and have served a minimum of two consecutive years under appointment immediately preceding the election.

AMENDMENT XXI (21)

¶ 36. Article V.--The lay delegates to the General and jurisdictional or central and regional conferences shall be elected by the lay members of the annual conference or provisional annual conference without regard to age, provided such delegates76 shall have been professing77 members of The United Methodist Church for at least two years next preceding their election, and shall have been active participants in The United Methodist Church for at least four years next preceding their election,78 and are members thereof within the annual conference electing them at the time of holding the General and jurisdictional or central and regional conferences.79

56. Amended 2000. 57. Amended 1996. 58. Amended 1996. 59. Amended 2000. 60. Amended 1968, 1970, 1980, 1984. 61. Amended 2000. 62. Amended 2000. 63. Amended 1988. 64. Amended 1972. 65. Amended 1976. 66. See Judicial Council Decisions 24, 113, 129, 349, 378, 479, 495, 511, 553, 561; and Decision 7, Interim Judicial Council. 67. Amended 1996. 68. See Judicial Council Decisions 78, 79, 132, 405, 406, 415, 524, 532, 534, 552, 584, 690, 742, 782, 862. 69. See Judicial Council Decision 592. 70. See Judicial Council Decision 352. 71. Amended 1992. 72. Amended 1996. 73. Amended 1996. 74. Amended 2000.

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75. See Judicial Council Decisions 1, 308, 403, 473, 531, 534, 875. 76. Amended 1972. 77. Amended 2000. 78. Amended 1976. 79. See Judicial Council Decisions 403, 887.

Section VII. Boundaries AMENDMENT XXII (22)

¶ 37. Article I.--The United Methodist Church shall have jurisdictional conferences made up as follows: Northeastern--Bermuda, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, the Virgin Islands,80 West Virginia.81 Southeastern--Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia. North Central--Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin. South Central--Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas. Western--Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming and the territory of the United States in the Pacific region.82

AMENDMENT XXIII (23)

¶ 38. Article II.--The work of the Church outside the United States of America83 may be formed into regional central conferences, the number and boundaries of which shall be determined by the Uniting Conference, the General Conference. having authority subsequently to make changes in the number and boundaries. ¶ 39. Article III.--Changes in the number, names, and boundaries of the jurisdictional conferences may be effected by the General Conference upon the consent of a majority of the annual conferences of each of the jurisdictional conferences involved.84

AMENDMENT XXIV (24)

¶ 40. Article IV.--Changes in the number, names, and boundaries of the annual conferences and episcopal areas may be effected by the jurisdictional conferences in the United States of America85 and by the central regional conferences outside the United States of America according to the provisions under the respective powers and pursuant to the respective structures86 of the jurisdictional and the central regional conferences.87 ¶ 41. Article V. Transfer of Local Churches--1. A local church may be transferred from one annual conference to another in which it is geographically located upon approval by a two-thirds vote of those present and voting in each of the following: a) the charge conference; b) the congregational meeting of the local church; c) each of the two annual conferences involved. The vote shall be certified by the secretaries of the specified conferences or meetings to the bishops having supervision of the annual conferences involved, and upon their announcement of the required majorities the transfer shall immediately be effective.

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2. The vote on approval of transfer shall be taken by each annual conference at its first session after the matter is submitted to it. 3. Transfers under the provisions of this article shall not be governed or restricted by other provisions of this Constitution relating to changes of boundaries of conferences.

80. Amended 1980. 81. Amended 1976. 82. Amended 1980. 83. Amended 1976. 84. See Judicial Council Decisions 55, 56, 85, 215. 85. Amended 1976. 86. Amended 1992. 87. See Judicial Council Decisions 28, 85, 217, 525, 541, 735; and Decisions 1, 2, Interim Judicial Council.

Section VIII. District Conferences

¶ 42. Article I.--There may be organized in an annual conference, district conferences composed of such persons and invested with such powers as the General Conference may determine.

Section IX. Charge Conferences

¶ 43. Article I.--There shall be organized in each charge a charge conference composed of such persons and invested with such powers as the General Conference shall provide. ¶ 44. Article II. Election of Church Officers--Unless the General Conference shall order otherwise, the officers of the church or churches constituting a charge shall be elected by the charge conference or by the professing88 members of said church or churches at a meeting called for that purpose, as may be arranged by the charge conference, unless the election is otherwise required by local church charters or state or provincial law.

DIVISION THREE--EPISCOPAL SUPERVISION

¶ 45. Article I.--There shall be a continuance of an episcopacy in The United Methodist Church of like plan, powers, privileges, and duties as now exist in The Methodist Church and in The Evangelical United Brethren Church in all those matters in which they agree and may be considered identical; and the differences between these historic episcopacies are deemed to be reconciled and harmonized by and in this Plan of Union and Constitution of The United Methodist Church and actions taken pursuant thereto so that a unified superintendency and episcopacy is hereby created and established of, in, and by those who now are and shall be bishops of The United Methodist Church; and the said episcopacy shall further have such powers, privileges, and duties as are herein set forth.89

AMENDMENT XXV (25)

¶ 46. Article II.--The bishops shall be elected by the respective jurisdictional and central regional conferences and consecrated in the historic manner at such time and place as may be fixed by the General Conference for those elected by the jurisdictions and by each central regional conference for those elected by such central regional conference.90

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¶ 47. Article III.--There shall be a Council of Bishops composed of all the bishops of The United Methodist Church. The council shall meet at least once a year and plan for the general oversight and promotion of the temporal and spiritual interests of the entire Church and for carrying into effect the rules, regulations, and responsibilities prescribed and enjoined by the General Conference and in accord with the provisions set forth in this Plan of Union.91

AMENDMENT XXVI (26)

¶ 48. Article IV.--The bishops of each jurisdictional and central regional conference shall constitute a College of Bishops. and such In regional conferences where there are jurisdictional conferences, the jurisdictional colleges shall arrange the plan of Episcopal supervision of the annual conferences, missionary conferences and missions within their jurisdictions. In regional conferences where there are no jurisdictional conferences, the regional conference college of bishops shall arrange the plan of episcopal supervision of the annual conferences, missionary92 conferences, and missions within their respective territories.93

AMENDMENT XXVII (27)

¶ 49. Article V.--The bishops shall have residential and presidential supervision in the jurisdictional or central and regional conferences94 in which they are elected or to which they are transferred. Bishops may be transferred from one jurisdiction to another jurisdiction for presidential and residential supervision under the following conditions: (1) The transfer of bishops may be on either of two bases: (a) a jurisdiction that receives a bishop by transfer from another jurisdiction may transfer to that jurisdiction or to a third jurisdiction one of its own bishops eligible for transfer, so that the number transferred in by each jurisdiction shall be balanced by the number transferred out; or (b) a jurisdiction may receive a bishop from another jurisdiction and not transfer out a member of its own College of Bishops. (2) No bishop shall be transferred unless that bishop shall have specifically consented. (3) No bishop shall be eligible for transfer unless the bishop shall have served one quadrennium in the jurisdiction that elected the bishop to the episcopacy. (4) All such transfers shall require the approval by a majority vote of the members present and voting of the jurisdictional committees on episcopacy of the jurisdictions that are involved.95 After the above procedures have been followed, the transferring bishop shall become a member of the receiving College of Bishops and shall be subject to residential assignment by that jurisdictional conference. A bishop may be assigned by the Council of Bishops for presidential service or other temporary service in another jurisdiction than that which elected the bishop, provided that the request is made by a majority of the bishops in the jurisdiction of the proposed service. In the case of an emergency in any jurisdiction or central regional conference through the death or disability of a bishop or other cause, the Council of Bishops may assign a bishop from another jurisdiction or central regional conference to the work of the said jurisdiction or central regional conference, with the consent of a majority of the bishops of that jurisdiction or central regional conference.

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AMENDMENT XXVIII (28)

¶ 50. Article VI.--The bishops, both active and retired, of The Evangelical United Brethren Church and of The Methodist Church at the time union is consummated shall be bishops of The United Methodist Church. The bishops of The Methodist Church elected by the jurisdictions, the active bishops of The Evangelical United Brethren Church at the time of union, and bishops elected by the jurisdictions of The United Methodist Church shall have life tenure. Each bishop elected by a central regional conference of The Methodist Church shall have such tenure as the central regional conference electing him shall have determined.96 The jurisdictional conference shall elect a standing committee on episcopacy to consist of one clergy and one lay delegate from each annual conference, on nomination of the annual conference delegation. The committee shall review the work of the bishops, pass on their character and official administration, and report to the jurisdictional conference its findings for such action as the conference may deem appropriate within its constitutional warrant of power. The committee shall recommend the assignments of the bishops to their respective residences for final action by the jurisdictional conference.

AMENDMENT XXIX (29)

¶ 51. Article VII.--A bishop presiding over an annual, central regional or jurisdictional conference shall decide all questions of law coming before the bishop in the regular business of a session,97 provided that such questions be presented in writing and that the decisions be recorded in the journal of the conference. Such an episcopal decision shall not be authoritative except for the pending case until it shall have been passed upon by the Judicial Council. All decisions of law made by each bishop shall be reported in writing annually, with a syllabus of the same, to the Judicial Council, which shall affirm, modify, or reverse them.

AMENDMENT XXX (30)

¶ 52. Article VIII.--The bishops of the several jurisdictional and central regional conferences shall preside in the sessions of their respective conferences.98 ¶ 53. Article IX.--In each annual conference there shall be one or more district superintendents who shall assist the bishop in the administration of the annual conference and shall have such responsibilities and term of office as the General Conference may determine.99 ¶ 54. Article X.--The bishops shall appoint, after consultation with the district superintendents, ministers to the charges; and they shall have such responsibilities and authorities as the General Conference shall prescribe.

88. Amended 2000. 89. See Judicial Council Decisions 4, 114, 127, 363. 90. See Judicial Council Decision 21. 91. See Judicial Council Decision 424. 92. Amended 1976. 93. See Judicial Council Decisions 517, 735. 94. Amended 1980. 95. Amended 1992. 96. See Judicial Council Decisions 4, 303, 361, 709. 97. See Judicial Council Decision 33. 98. See Judicial Council Decision 395. 99. See Judicial Council Decisions 368, 398.

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DIVISION FOUR--THE JUDICIARY

¶ 55. Article I.--There shall be a Judicial Council. The General Conference shall determine the number and qualifications of its members, their terms of office, and the method of election and the filling of vacancies.

AMENDMENT XXXI (31)

¶ 56. Article II.--The Judicial Council shall have authority: 1. To determine the constitutionality of any act of the General Conference upon an appeal of a majority of the Council of Bishops or one-fifth of the members of the General Conference and to determine the constitutionality of any act of a jurisdictional or central regional conference upon an appeal of a majority of the bishops of that jurisdictional or central regional conference or upon the appeal of one-fifth of the members of that jurisdictional or central regional conference. 2. To hear and determine any appeal from a bishop's decision on a question of law made in the annual conference when said appeal has been made by one-fifth of that conference present and voting. 3. To pass upon decisions of law made by bishops in annual conferences. 4. To hear and determine the legality of any action taken therein by any General Conference board or jurisdictional or central regional conference board or body, upon appeal by one-third of the members thereof, or upon request of the Council of Bishops or a majority of the bishops of a jurisdictional or a central regional conference. 5. To have such other duties and powers as may be conferred upon it by the General Conference. 6. To provide its own methods of organization and procedure. ¶ 57. Article III.--All decisions of the Judicial Council shall be final. When the Judicial Council shall declare unconstitutional any act of the General Conference then in session, that decision shall be reported back to that General Conference immediately. ¶ 58. Article IV.--The General Conference shall establish for the Church a judicial system that shall guarantee to our clergy a right to trial by a committee and an appeal, and to our members a right to trial before the Church, or by a committee, and an appeal.100

100. See Judicial Council Decision 522.

16

DIVISION FIVE--AMENDMENTS

¶ 59. Article I.--Amendments to the Constitution shall be made upon a two-thirds majority of the General Conference present and voting and a two-thirds affirmative vote of the aggregate number of members of the several annual conferences present and voting, except in the case of the first and second Restrictive Rules, which shall require a three-fourths majority of all the members of the annual conferences present and voting. The vote, after being completed, shall be canvassed by the Council of Bishops, and the amendment voted upon shall become effective upon their announcement of its having received the required majority.101 In the event that the General Conference adopts an amendment to the Constitution, the General Conference may immediately adopt enabling legislation for such amendment which shall be contingent on ratification of the amendment by the required two-thirds affirmative vote of the aggregate number of members of the several annual conferences present and voting, and effective once the Council of Bishops, operating as a canvasser of votes, announces that the amendment has been passed. In the same manner, an annual conference may approve legislation in anticipation of such a change in the Discipline and/or Constitution that would likewise become effective upon the effective date of said Disciplinary Change or Constitutional Amendment. ¶ 60. Article II.--Amendments to the Constitution may originate in either the General Conference or the annual conferences.

AMENDMENT XXXII (32)

¶ 61. Article III.--A jurisdictional or central regional conference102 may by a majority vote propose changes in the Constitution of the Church, and such proposed changes shall be submitted to the next General Conference. If the General Conference adopts the measure by a two-thirds vote, it shall be submitted to the annual conferences according to the provision for amendments.

101. See Judicial Council Decisions 154, 243, 244, 349, 483, 884, 961; amended 1976. 102. Amended 1980.

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